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Hi, dear members. I have been locked in an argument with a Chinese teacher about the use of "should have thought".
The sentence in question is seemingly from a reference book for preparation of an English test:

Aren't you tired? I should have thought you had done enough today.

I think in this case "should have thought" equals "would have thought", which indicates the speaker is surprised at another guy, who is supposed to be tired but is still vigorous, when he sees the guy is still working. The speaker expected the other guy to be tired but it turns out otherwise. It also indicates the other guy is doing the work of his own volition, not being forced.

But the Chinese teacher insist that "should have thought" means "the speaker should have thought he was tired but actually the speaker didn't", indicating the speaker regrets having been inconsiderate towards the other guy by pushing the guy to do some work although the the guy was already tired.
And he he thinks "would have thought" expresses speculation of the past or subjunctive mood, which is different from "should have thought".

But I have read many threads here and know that "should have thought" is just another way of saying "would have thought", so I disagree with him.

So who is right? Please shed light on this.

Thank you.

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Comments  (Page 6) 
zuotengdazuoThat is to say, like the sentence "he would have thought/had thought/thought White Fawn would have taught ...", the sentence "I would have thought/had thought/thought you might have wanted to tend to it yourself" doesn't have a counterfactual/hypothetical meaning either.

These are probably hypothetical (at minimum uncertain); i.e. the actions "taught" and "wanted to tend" probably did not happen, as far as the speaker can judge.

zuotengdazuoCompared to "you might want to", "might have wanted to" is more past, rather than more hypothetical. I know this contradicts what you have previously told me,

The two things are complementary rather than contradictory. In these kinds of sentences, all other things being equal, "might have wanted to" can feel more hypothetical because it has more of a sense of unrealised past possibility. "might want to" has more of a sense that there may be an open present/future possibility.

Thank you, GPY.

GPYThe two things are complementary rather than contradictory. In these kinds of sentences, all other things being equal, "might have wanted to" can feel more hypothetical because it has more of a sense of unrealised past possibility. "might want to" has more of a sense that there may be an open present/future possibility.

I get it. So there are two differences between "might have wanted to" and "might want to" in that sentence:

First one is what you mentioned above;

Second one is about tense: "might have wanted to" refers to past (i.e at the time anterior to the thought) while "might want to" refers to now (i.e. at he same time as the thought)

And the differences between "... I would have thought she would have come" and "... I would have thought she would come" are the same as those between "might have wanted to" and ""might want to".

Right?

And I noticed that perfect modal construction (modal +have) and plain modal construction (modal + verb) can be interchangeable in subordinate clauses in direct speech but in narrative the two constructions can't be interchangeable in subordinate clauses (i.e. we should take into consideration if the tense convey by the modal construction fits in the context ) Do you think so?

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zuotengdazuoSecond one is about tense: "might have wanted to" refers to past (i.e at the time anterior to the thought) while "might want to" refers to now (i.e. at he same time as the thought)

It isn't quite this simple. In some cases, e.g. "I thought you might have finished by now", "might have pp" clearly refers to past time. However, in other cases, such as your example, it is more open to interpretation whether the perfect construction refers to past time or just provides additional distancing from a hypothetical or imagined action.

zuotengdazuoAnd the differences between "... I would have thought she would have come" and "... I would have thought she would come" are the same as those between "might have wanted to" and ""might want to".Right?

On the face of it this seems reasonable, but without studying many examples in detail it is hard to be certain that it always holds.

And I noticed that perfect modal construction (modal +have) and plain modal construction (modal + verb) can be interchangeable in subordinate clauses in direct speech but in narrative the two constructions can't be interchangeable in subordinate clauses (i.e. we should take into consideration if the tense convey by the modal construction fits in the context ) Do you think so?

I can't immediately see why there would be any difference between direct speech and narrative. Could you give an example where you think there would be?

Thank you for your comment. I would have thought you would agree with me.

GPYIn some cases, e.g. "I thought you might have finished by now", "might have pp" clearly refers to past time.

This sentence is clear since it is back-shifting. I thought to myself "you may have finished by now" ==>I thought you might have finished by now.

GPYHowever, in other cases, such as your example, it is more open to interpretation whether the perfect construction refers to past time or just provides additional distancing from a hypothetical or imagined action.

That's not my intention--- I'm not trying to determine if the function of perfect modal construction in the subordinate clause is to indicate a more past event or make the event more hypothetical. I think, in many cases, the two functions are fulfilled at the same time, as in my dwarf’s pennies and Grand Maester examples. Isn't this what you are trying to tell me?

GPYI can't immediately see why there would be any difference between direct speech and narrative. Could you give an example where you think there would be?

I think my three examples have already shown the difference --- as you've told me, in White Fawn example, which is narrative, it makes no sense to say "He would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett... "; while in dwarf's pennies example, which is direct speech, we can say " I would have thought you might want/might have wanted to tend to it yourself." interchangeably.

I suspect more examples will still lead us to Rome.

For example, "Remy is Lyonais," Teabing whispered, as if it were an unfortunate disease. "But he does sauces quite nicely."

Langdon looked amused. "I would have thought you'd import an English staff?"

Like my other examples, I think in this one we can say "you'd import" and "you'd have imported" interchangeably, with the former being more present and less hypothetical and the latter more past and more hypothetical. Needless to say, we can also say "I (had) thought" in this example, according to your previous explanation.

But if the sentence is said in narrative, we can only say "Langdon would have thought Teabing would have imported an English staff", instead of "Teabing would import" since it's a past situation.

Another example, She would have thought a woman would have died of shame. Instead of which, the shame died.

This is from Lady Chatterley's Lover. I have not read this book but I guess "would have died" instead of "would die" is mandatory here since it's narrative concerning a past situation.

If the sentence is said in direct speech, I think we still need to say "I would have thought a woman would have died"; "... would die" doesn't seem possible.

Does it make sense?

zuotengdazuoThis sentence is clear since it is back-shifting. I thought to myself "you may have finished by now" ==>I thought you might have finished by now.

I don't agree with this interpretation. The purpose of this sentence is not to report a past thought, but to express that an expectation has not been fulfilled (assuming that the person actually has not finished).

zuotengdazuo I think, in many cases, the two functions are fulfilled at the same time, as in my dwarf’s pennies and Grand Maester examples. Isn't this what you are trying to tell me?

The two functions may be fulfilled at the same time, or one may predominate, depending on context and interpretation.

zuotengdazuoI think my three examples have already shown the difference --- as you've told me, in White Fawn example, which is narrative, it makes no sense to say "He would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett... ";

This is because future teaching (relative to the present of the narrative) is not going to affect the past situation that has been observed. It has nothing to do with its being narrative. The same would apply to the direct speech "I would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett ...".

zuotengdazuowhile in dwarf's pennies example, which is direct speech, we can say " I would have thought you might want/might have wanted to tend to it yourself." interchangeably.

Not necessarily interchangeably, no. If you say "you might want" then it can suggest, or suggest more strongly, that she might want to do that now or in future, as opposed to the past. This is not completely clear-cut though. But, in any case, it is not really anything to do with direct speech vs. narrative.

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Thanks for your reply.

GPYThe same would apply to the direct speech "I would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett ...".

Do you mean the direct speech "I would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett ..." does not work either in that context because "would teach" refers to future teaching after "I would have thought"? But I think "I would have thought that the White Fawn would have taught Merrett ..." is OK in that context.

GPYThis is not completely clear-cut though. But, in any case, it is not really anything to do with direct speech vs. narrative.

I suspect if it has something to do with how "past" the event is. Tyrion has recently been assigned the chore called "dwarf's pennies" and this event is still in progress. So I think not only can we say "you might want" and "you might have wanted" in direct speech, we can also say them in narrative, i.e. The lady would have thought/had thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself. Right?

Likewise, the same can be applied to the Grand Maester example as well. The Queen's sending others to come has just happened so both "would come come" and "would have come" work in the direct speech and narrative, i.e. Tyrion would have thought/had thought the Queen would come/would have come herself. Right?

So my point is if the event happened a long time ago, as in the White Fawn example, we should use perfect modal construction (modal +have) in the subordinate clause; if the event has recently happened or is still in progress, we can use either perfect modal construction (modal +have) or plain modal construction (modal + verb) in the subordinate clause. This "rule" holds in both direct speech and narrative. Right?


Oh, by the way, if we change the dwarf's pennies and Grand Maester examples into narrative, we can't say "The lady thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself" or "Tyrion thought the Queen would come/would have come herself" because "thought" refers the "now" of the narrative so unlike in direct speech, "thought" in narrative doesn't have a "contrary to expectation" meaning. Instead it refers to what the speaker currently thinks. Does it make sense?

zuotengdazuoDo you mean the direct speech "I would have thought that the White Fawn would teach Merrett ..." does not work either in that context because "would teach" refers to future teaching after "I would have thought"?

It refers to the future relative to the time that the sentence is spoken. It could also be interpreted as referring to habitual behaviour, depending on context.

zuotengdazuoSo I think not only can we say "you might want" and "you might have wanted" in direct speech, we can also say them in narrative, i.e. The lady would have thought/had thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself. Right?

Yes.

zuotengdazuoLikewise, the same can be applied to the Grand Maester example as well. The Queen's sending others to come has just happened so both "would come come" and "would have come" work in the direct speech and narrative, i.e. Tyrion would have thought/had thought the Queen would come/would have come herself. Right?

Yes, but there may be less tendency to use "would have thought" in narrative. "had thought" may be preferred.

zuotengdazuoSo my point is if the event happened a long time ago, as in the White Fawn example, we should use perfect modal construction (modal +have) in the subordinate clause; if the event has recently happened or is still in progress, we can use either perfect modal construction (modal +have) or plain modal construction (modal + verb) in the subordinate clause.

The point here is not whether it happened a long time ago or recently, but whether the matter is finished and decided. In the White Fawn example, as I understand it, Merret has already met or had some association with the woman, and no present or future teaching can change that. The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting to have any effect. That is why "would have taught" is used. It doesn't matter how long ago the meeting took place.

zuotengdazuoOh, by the way, if we change the dwarf's pennies and Grand Maester examples into narrative, we can't say "The lady thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself" or "Tyrion thought the Queen would come/would have come herself" because "thought" refers the "now" of the narrative so unlike in direct speech, "thought" in narrative doesn't have a "contrary to expectation" meaning. Instead it refers to what the speaker currently thinks. Does it make sense?

No, I don't think so. Where the context suggests a "contrary to expectation" meaning, then that is what would be understood from these narrative sentences. Some people might prefer "had thought" though.

Thank you so much, GPY.

GPYIn the White Fawn example, as I understand it, Merret has already met or had some association with the woman, and no present or future teaching can change that. The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting to have any effect. That is why "would have taught" is used. It doesn't matter how long ago the meeting took place.

The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting? I thought it is after the meeting (with White Fawn). And I don't know which meeting and which woman you are referring to. Regarding the White Fawn example, the context is the conversation is between Jamie and Lady Mariya. They are talking about the outlaws who might have killed Lady Mariya's husband, Merrett. White Fawn is a former female leader of the outlaws who has made Merrett suffer once. But now Merrett has got entangled with another woman who leads the outlaws. So Jamie thinks White Fawn may not have taught Merrett a lesson. Is it clear now?

GPYzuotengdazuoSo I think not only can we say "you might want" and "you might have wanted" in direct speech, we can also say them in narrative, i.e. The lady would have thought/had thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself. Right?Yes.

So no matter whether they are used in narrative or in direct speech, the difference between "you might want" and "you might have wanted" is the same; It's the same with "would come" and "would have come". Right?

GPYNo, I don't think so. Where the context suggests a "contrary to expectation" meaning, then that is what would be understood from these narrative sentences. Some people might prefer "had thought" though.

So the narrative versions "Tyrion thought the Queen would come/would have come herself" and "The lady thought Tyrion might want/might have wanted to tend to it himself" can also work in their respective original context, right?


At last, what do you think about the Langdon example from The Da Vinci Code? Is it a finished and decided event or a current event still in progress? I think either interpretation is right since Teabing's hiring an English butler is an unrealized past possibility and Teabing can fire the French butler and recruit another English man at any time he wants. So I feel all these combinations work in the original context:

Direct speech:

1. I would have thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
2. I would have thought Teabing would import an English staff.
3. I had thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
4. I had thought Teabing would import an English staff.

5. I thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
6. I thought Teabing would import an English staff.

Narrative:

1. He would have thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
2. He would have thought Teabing would import an English staff.
3. He had thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
4. He had thought Teabing would import an English staff.

5. He thought Teabing would have imported an English staff.
6. He thought Teabing would import an English staff.


Right?

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Hi, GPY. I have carefully read your comments so now I know the difference between direct speech and narrative doesn't exist. But now come to think of it, if a finished or decided event requires perfect modal construction (modal +have) in the subordinate clause, then why can we say "I would have thought she would come" since the event "she comes" is finished?

Besides, is there any difference between the usage of "would have thought" and that of "would never have thought"?

For example,

Context: I had not the least knowledge about philosophy until I'd listened to a lecture on philosophy yesterday. Right now I'm reading one of Kant's works.

1. Three days ago, I would never have thought I would be able to read Kant's work now.

2. Three days ago, I would never have thought I would have been able to read Kant's work now.

I write this example myself, which seems to resemble the dwarf's pennies example since I'm still reading it. But I'm told #2 is not OK. Would you please tell me why?

Thank you.

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